After Steele bought a new phone at RadioShack, a RadioShack employee transferred the data from Steele’s old phone to his new one. Steele left his old phone at RadioShack for recycling. Afterwards, RadioShack accessed his old phone and viewed personal information, including photographs which Steele took at his worksite. RadioShack forwarded these photos to Steele’s employer and shortly thereafter, Steele was fired. The case is Steele v. RadioShack Corp., 11-14021 (E.D. Mich.; Feb. 3, 2012).
- Steele brought a claim for common law intrusion into seclusion, which required him to show (1) the existence of private and secret subject matter; (2) that the plaintiff had a right to keep private; and (3) access of the information by defendant through means objectionable to a reasonable person.
- In it’s motion to dismiss, RadioShack argues that giving the phone to RadioShack for recycling terminated Steele’s right to keep the information private; and that Steele fails to satisfy the third element (that the information was accessed in a way that was offensive to the reasonable person).
The motion to dismiss was denied. The Court states, as to the third element, that this is a question for the jury and not amenable to resolution at the motion to dismiss stage (whether a reasonable person who gave his or her cellular phone to someone with the understanding that the device would be destroyed or recycled does not consent to access of the personal information on the device).
For full article see: RadioShack May Be Liable for Accessing Images from Recycled …
- What happens to old electronic devices as they’re replaced? (usatoday.com)
- Guard personal info if recycling electronics (abclocal.go.com)